It’s almost Valentine’s Day, which makes me think of love, which, of course, makes me think of chickens (right after I think of the CE, of course).
Many of you know that we are in wait mode for some new additions to the flock. ETA for our four new babies is mid-June, and here is a preview of the breeds we’ve ordered:
Dr. Seuss must have played a part in coming up with this breed. They are the teddy bears of the chicken world, known for their docile temperament and excellent mothering abilities.
The first known account of a Silkie sighting came from Marco Polo, who spoke of seeing chickens with fur-like plumage during his travels to Asia in the 13th century. Silkies have five toes – one more than other chicken breeds, and are known for their blue-black colored skin and bones.
Silkies come in a number of colors but I decided on traditional white for my first Silkie chick. Silkies in North America are bantam-sized, so she will be just a little girl.
MILLE FLEUR D’UCCLE
A true bantam, in that there is no standard-sized equivalent for the breed, the Belgian Mille Fleur D’Uccle is one of the prettiest of chickens. Mille fleur, which translates to “a thousand flowers”, refers to the spangly feather pattern that makes these friendly birds so irresistible.
These little feather-footed beauties were first bred outside of Brussels in the late 19th century. They lay a small white egg.
BLACK COPPER MARANS
These birds originated in the western France town of Marans in the early 20th century and are prized for their dark brown eggs.
The eggs of hatchery stock, which I will be getting, are not known to be as dark as those from breeder stock fowl. But of all the Marans breeds, the Black Coppers are known to lay the darkest eggs. Every account of the Marans breed is accompanied by the factoid that theirs are the eggs preferred byJames Bond.
The pigment of a Marans egg is deposited just before laying via mucus glands within the last 10 centimeters of the hen’s oviduct. Thus, unlike the coloring of other chicken eggs, the pigment can actually be removed through vigorous scrubbing – not that anyone would choose to do so. The Black Copper Marans temperament is described as “stately and gentle”.
The forebears of the Sussex chicken reach back into history to the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43. Speckled Sussex are favorites among chickenkeepers for their docile and curious temperament.
Their speckles are known to increase with successive molts, so these birds just get prettier with age. They are good layers of tinted or light brown eggs.
Our baby chicks will come from Mypetchicken.com, (www.mypetchicken.com) which is a boon to backyard flock keepers. They have partnered with a hatchery (I’m not sure which one) to offer sexed standard size and bantam chicks, and will ship small orders, unlike most hatcheries, which will ship no fewer than twenty-five birds at a time. While hatching, baby chicks ingest their yolk sac, which keeps them nourished for up to 72 hours, allowing time for them to be priority shipped through the US mail to their new homes.
Here is a video of baby chicks being hatched:
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!